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I walked on, unsteady and feeling drained, but thinking I had another day or two left in me. I kept asking myself what good would any more time do me. What was the point in going on? I had no place to go. The world had somehow ended and, apparently, I was the last one standing.

I’d been out of town on business when it happened, and I was still unsure exactly what had happened. I’d emerged from the bunker where I’d been doing research for the prior two days, and found the world had literally ceased to be. Bodies were strewn everywhere, and every conceivable type of vehicle was scattered helter-skelter in the streets. Whatever had happened seemed to have occurred without warning and had been instantly fatal to everyone.

I’d survived, but the prognosis for continuing to do so was not favorable. The air was fouled with something chemical that had a familiar odor but I was unable to identify it. It rained like clockwork every hour for fifteen or twenty minutes, and when it rained the foul odor seemed to get stronger.

I turned off onto a residential street where everything appeared to be intact. Houses stood undamaged, automobiles sat in driveways, and freshly mowed yards soaked up the still falling rain. A colorful object lay on the sidewalk a few houses ahead.

When I reached the object, I stood and stared at it, my mind exploding with vivid and painful memories. Memories I’d done my best to push aside as I’d wandered through the wasteland of a world which had ceased to be.

girl and ducks 2Suddenly, like a movie on a screen, I could see my young daughter standing at the curb, her brightly colored umbrella held over her, as she watched a mother duck and her five little ducklings step off the curb and start across the street. She followed them, staying a few feet back so as not to frighten them, and saw them safely across the street to the park. As the mama duck and her brood waddled toward the pond in the middle of the park, my little girl looked over at me and beamed with pride.


I picked up the umbrella, shook the acrid rain from it and opened it. I continued down the sidewalk, smiling as I carried the memory of my daughter above my head and in my heart and mind.

I’d found something more than an umbrella; I’d found hope. For the first time since I’d emerged from the research bunker, I wondered if perhaps other towns had survived whatever had befallen this one. Maybe my family twelve-hundred miles away was safe, unharmed, and wondering if I might somehow have survived.

My mind was whirring with thoughts, but one kept shouting above the rest: I’ve got to get back home.

Copyright © 2011 C. Mashburn

Part one: The Last Grain of Sand

Part three: Like a Fairy Tale

Part four: Then There Were Three

Part five: Cinnamon

Part six: L. Aliens in the Morning

Part seven: Dearest Wife

Part eight: Dearest John

Part nine: L. Angel

Part ten: The Books

Part eleven: Play Money

( Image Credit: ) Hourglass

Picture credit

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Get Your Ducks In A Row!

Here’s another poem I’ve posted before, most of you have probably seen it, but some of you might have missed it. It’s one of those silly things that just popped into my head when I heard the title one day. We’ve all been there, and done this, in one way or another, so I hope you get a chuckle out of it. It was a natural for the Bluebell Books Short Story Slam this week, so here it is again. I intend to write a story to go with the prompt sometime today or tomorrow, too. Read the rest of this entry »

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